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To Combat Zika, Governor Wants More Test Kits & Mosquito Control

Photo via Flickr// Fairfax County

Florida Governor Rick Scott addressed the media Thursday about the state’s response to the Zika virus.  One day after declaring a health emergency in four Florida counties, including Santa Rosa County, the governor, standing next to State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong, laid out the state’s plan to combat the virus, beginning with making sure there are enough kits available to test for active cases of the disease.

"We currently have 448 kits to do this testing, and I'm authorizing the department of Health to purchase 4000 test kits." Scott also called on the CD to conduct a conference call with Florida health officials about the latest knowledge on the virus. He also addressed mosquito control. "The Department [of Agriculture and Consumer Services] has been appropriated $1.6 million in the last fiscal budget for mosquito control and, to our knowledge, most of that funding is still available."

Credit Office of Governor Rick Scott

The governor pointed out that Florida is an international tourist destination, with many visitors coming from countries where the virus is spreading. During the press conference, Scott was asked if he had fears that declaring a state of emergency in the state might affect tourism. "Well, my responsibility as governor is to keep people safe. We have 20.3 million people living in our state, (and we'll have) 109 million tourists (this year) I hope." Scott says those tourists want to know that they'll be safe when they travel to Florida, so he wants to "get ahead of this".

Scott says the test kits will be distributed around the state according to the most need, and if they run out they will buy more. State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong says the kits are readily available from a commercial vendor, and once someone is tested the results come back in 24 hours. He says they have a choice between two different tests, one that tests for active disease and one that tests for Zika antibodies, which shows someone had the disease in the past.

Dr. Armstrong also said there are no plans to quarantine patients who test positive for the virus or its antibodies. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.